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Three Episode Thoughts: “Future Man”

With the rising success of original content showing up on the myriad of streaming services, especially that of the sci-fi genre, Hulu has taken it upon themselves to add to the sci-fi/comedy mix with the series Future Man.

In another variation of what has been referred to as an “Excalibur Test” (The Last Starfighter), Josh Futturman gets selected as the savior of the world in the future by time travelers who have planted a video game depicting the life and death struggles the future has to face. Futturman’s life revolves around this game. He plays it constantly while at home (and still living with his parents), as well as while on scheduled breaks at his job as a janitor of a scientific laboratory. He has been battling this game only to be frustrated by the seemingly impossible way to actually beat the monstrous threat known as the Biotics. One day he’s inspired to try something no one has ever done with the game, and in doing so, actually survives and wins the day. This is where it all goes wrong for him as two soldiers almost immediately visit him from the future, and they intend to use him as their means of salvation. It does not take long to realize though that this kid is hardly the soldier they were looking for. Instead they see a coward who isn’t willing to take the necessary steps to achieve victory, i.e. kill anyone who gets in his, or their, way. However, what he does have that they don’t is knowledge. He understands what it is that brought on the menace that is threatening the time that these soldiers come from, so he comes up with a plan to actually go back in time and stop the threat from ever taking place.

With our time traveling team back in time they must actually try to prevent an incident with the very lab scientist Futturman works for (and is friends with) from contracting a “condition” that sets him down a very specific research path, which in turn creates the Biotics that bring about humanity’s extinction. He succeeds in his initial plan, but as with all things, the plan goes awry and when he returns to his own time his own present is altered more than just subtly. He accidentally leaves future technology in the past thereby affecting his own time, and his own home life does not resemble he is accustomed to. This forces our soldiers to take matters into their own hands and they are now prepared to go forward with their original mission of eliminating the scientist who inadvertently creates the Biotics, despite Futturman’s objections, which turn puts him in their crosshairs as well.

Given the growing number of streaming shows that are of a sci-fi genre, I had enormous hopes for this one. With a series that deals in time travel, but doesn’t strive to take itself too seriously, I felt that this could be a fun, and slightly satirical look, at time travel and the bizarre ramifications that could come from it. Unfortunately I was ended up being enormously disappointed by what was given. Just three episodes in and all I’ve seen is something that looks like a cross between NBC’s Timeless and Animal House, and even the sophomoric humor isn’t very good. Even in the very first episode Futturman commits a sexual act with the results landing on one of the future soldiers right as they materialize. What is depressing is that this was the high mark of the show’s humor, as everything continued to go downhill from there.

Futturman is played by Josh Hutcherson, best known for playing Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games movies, and despite his attempts at playing something of a loser, but likable character, the writers have given us someone who truly panders to the lowest common denominator. He continues to show that he’s a bright character by the things he says and the ideas he comes up with, but those are diminished by some of the worst thought out execution. Just imagine the Back To The Future movies, but instead of Marty McFly trying to work out whatever time traveling crisis he’s in you have Biff Tanner instead. That’s who Futturman is. He flips between Marty and Biff in terms of characteristics and actions, which makes him a terrible protagonist to get behind.

The two soldiers, Tiger and Wolfe (all of the soldiers from the future have names of animals as their code names), are respectively played by Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson. Coupe has a very respectable resumé, which includes the TV series Quantico and the successful Hulu comedy series The Mindy Project. Derek Wilson is another actor with a wonderful acting background, having received a Master’s Degree in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has appeared in a variety of TV shows, including The Good Wife and Preacher. Both of these actors are more than capable at delivering some strong performances, but the characters they are given are two-dimensional at worst, and purely juvenile at best. They have absolutely no depth and play to more of the stereotypical soldier. They are at times so incredibly irritating that I could not even think of their antics as a joke.

Maybe this series takes longer to find its footing, but after three episodes I could not find anything redeeming here. It gives the term “low-brow” new meaning. If there is any potential for this series then it needs to be shown much sooner because after three episodes all I can say is that there is no future for me in watching Future Man.
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Have you watched Future Man, and if you did what did you think of it? Did you enjoy the show, and what made it work for you?
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Updated: March 21, 2018 — 8:56 am

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